Publications Notes de l'Ifri
Zahra R. BABAR

Labor Migration in the State of Qatar: Policy Making and Governance Notes de l'Ifri, December 2013

The discovery of petroleum wealth in the middle of the last century completely reconfigured the political economy of Qatar. Small local population size and low levels of labor force participation pushed Qatar to seek alternate sources of labor to meet burgeoning labor demands.

Labor Migration in the State of Qatar - Policy Making and Governance

From the 1960s onwards, foreign workers were therefore increasingly brought in to address regional labor shortages. Today, 93 per cent of the total labor force is comprised of non-Qataris.

What institutional solutions have been developed to respond to this process? What measures have been put in place to organise the arrival and activity of a large number of workers? Is the “kafeel” system a good one and does it respond to the emerging challenges posed by the inflow of workers?

Zahra Babar is Associate Director for Research at the Center for International and Regional Studies (CIRS) at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in Qatar, where her primary responsibility is to maintain oversight of the Center’s research projects. Since 2008, CIRS has engaged in two major research initiatives on migrant labor issues in the Gulf region. Prior to joining Georgetown University, Ms. Babar worked in the international aid, community development, and poverty alleviation sectors. She has served with the International Labour Organisation and the United Nations Development Programme. Ms. Babar also spent several years working in Pakistan with the Sarhad Rural Support Programme, one of the largest multi-sectoral rural development organisations in the country Her current research interests include Gulf migration and labor policies, gender and development, citizenship in the Persian Gulf states, GCC regional integration, and food security policies and issues for the Middle East. She has edited, with Mehran Kamrava, Migrant Labor in the Persian Gulf, Hurst/Columbia University, 2012 and with Suzi Mirgani, Food Security in the Middle East, Hurst, Forth-coming 2014.


Labor Migration in the State of Qatar: Policy Making and Governance
Governance immigration policy migration Qatar Qatar